PPA answers call for better readership data

The results of the biggest piece of research into the print medium outside the National Readership Survey will be unveiled to an audience of advertisers and their agencies at Bafta on March 23.

The Quality of Reading Survey (QRS) answers years of prompting from clients and agencies for more information about how much consumers read print products. It will result in a new measurement system of “opportunities to see” (OTS) for inter and intra-media comparison.

QRS is the Periodical Publishers’ Association’s response to client demands and a clear signal that the magazine industry is promoting the unique value of its medium. Perhaps more significantly, the PPA has developed the survey in partnership with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, and it will be published as a cross industry study.

So after 18 months of planning, what is the industry going to get and how will it help? The core purpose of the QRS is to provide quantitative data about reader behaviour and attitudes to the products that they read. This means data about the time consumers spend reading a product, how many times they pick it up, what proportion of it they read and how long they spend reading it. Data on consumers’ feelings, beliefs and the likelihood of action being taken as a result of reading is also included.

The survey covers all products on the NRS plus all major newspaper supplements and sections. The methodology to establish average issue readership is identical to that used for the NRS, but instead of product usage the second part of the interview is used for Quality of Reading questions.

At the centre of the study will be a new measurement called PEX, which stands for page exposure. PEX scores will measure the number of times the average reader opens the average page of a print product. This will give advertisers a more comprehensive understanding of reading behaviour and allow them to make direct comparisons between print and other media.

The NRS gives reliable data about average issue readership allowing planners to estimate the OTS of an average issue. But it is clear that readers may not always read 100 per cent of every magazine. PEX gives planners the same confidence to assess the OTS of a page.

This survey will be distributed to agencies through computer bureaux and can be interrogated with all the flexibility that exists with the other mainstream surveys. Demographic sub groups can be analysed and schedule evaluation, cross tabulation and cost ranking will all be standard tools on the software.

The survey will be fused directly onto the NRS and issued as one study from May 20. Agencies will be able to access the full NRS data and the QRS from the same source.

Over recent years, print and magazines in particular have made strenuous efforts to demonstrate how the medium works.

The QRS increases our understanding of why the popularity of magazines results in high levels of attention and action given to the advertising which appears in them.

As competition for the advertisers’ attention increases, different media need to give evidence for their importance. The magazine business has put its money where its mouth is and the guessing games will be over on March 23.

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